Andrew Sullivan, who I don’t read very often, has an email apparently from a military chaplain in Fallujah. An excerpt:
This country became a welfare state under Saddam. If you cared about your well-fare, you towed the line or died. The state did your thinking and your bidding. Want a job? Pledge allegiance to the Ba’ath party. Want an apartment, a car, etc? Show loyalty. Electricity, water, sewage, etc. was paid by the state. Go with the flow: life is good. Don’t and you’re dead. Now, what does that do to initiative? drive? industry?
So, we come along and lock up sugar daddy and give these people the toughest challenge in the world, FREEDOM. You want a job? Earn it! A house? Buy it or build it! Security? Build a police force, army and militia and give it to yourself. Risk your lives and earn freedom. The good news is that millions of Iraqis are doing just that, and some pay with their lives. But many, many are struggling with freedom (just like East Germans, Russians, Czechs, etc.) and they want a sugar daddy, the U.S.A., to do it all. We refuse. We don’t want to be plantation owners. We make it clear we are here to help, not own or stay. They get mad about that, sometimes.
Nonetheless, in Faluja, the supposed hotbed of dissent in Iraq, countless Iraqis tell our psyopers they want to cooperate with us but are afraid the thugs will slit their throats or kill their kids. A bad gang can do that to a neighborhood and a town. That’s what is happening here.
You really should go read the whole thing.
Regarding Fallujah, a co-worker asked me the other day why the insurgents were so damn stupid. She said that if they’d just wait six months or a year, the US troop levels would be down and they’d have an easier time disrupting the Establishment of freedom. While that makes sense in a way, there’s a major catch to that idea.
If the insurgency lays low for six months or a year, Iraq will be that much farther along in it’s rebirth. The police forces will be more established. The Iraqi army will be larger and more reliable. The new Iraqi government will have begun taking charge.
But the biggest problem with that plan is that the average Iraqi citizen will probably be buying into the new Iraq more than ever. Electricity will be on even more than it is now. Water and food will be be more available. Living conditions will be much better. More Iraqis will have paying jobs. More kids will be going to school.
(And never mind that George Bush will probably be in for another term as the US President.)
The insurgents have a closing window of opportunity here. Remember when all the wags (gloatingly) observed that the Bush administration had missed a golden opportunity for international support in the period after 9/11? That was true to an extent, but it’s even more true today for the insurgents in Iraq. Our “missed” chance in the world “community” was mostly centered on the interaction between governments. The current chance in Iraq for the insurgents depends on the support, or at least the fear, of the local populace. If enough Iraqi civilians feel secure, domestic and foreign trouble-makers will lose a lot of the cover they currently enjoy in places like Fallujah, Sadr City, and Najaf. At some point, hopefully, Iraq will reach a sort of “critical mass” and the jig will be up for resistance fighters hoping to cultivate the goodwill of the people.
Of course, the same can be said for our occupation. That window is also closing. We can’t drag our feet.